Label: Captured Tracks
In the past five years, Captured Tracks have quickly transformed from a respectable small record label to one of the biggest indies in North America. While the success of Mac Demarco could have easily resulted in the label losing focus on new and lesser known acts, they have remained consistent with their output. From archival Flying Nun reissues to near-perfect albums by artists like Chris Cohen, Captured Tracks is on an impressive roll, and Donovan Blanc is the latest addition to the label’s roster. The group will release their debut self-titled album on June 24th,
Donovan Blanc is a duo, comprised of Joseph Black and Raymond Schwab. After spending the early part of the decade playing in a noisier group called Honeydrum, Black and Schwab ditched their lo-fi leanings in favour of a cleaner, produced sound. Musically speaking, their debut pays enormous debt to 70’s album oriented rock. At times, it reminds you of another songwriting duo from that decade – America. Like the Blanc boys, America had a penchant for saccharine pop melodies that still managed to surprise with unexpected rhythmic and chord changes. There’s also an unabashed love for Wrecking Crew levels of density. The opening track “Girlfriend” begins with a “Sounds of Silence”-esque guitar melody before introducing Mellotron flutes and lush harmonies, which will make any AM gold fan smile uncontrollably.
There are lyrical references to relationships, with specific names used throughout, adding a romantic quality to the album. The lead single is “Minha Menina” (translated from Portuguese, it means my girl), likely a reference to the Os Mutantes song of the same name. While the Mutantes song follows the classic trope of two people falling in love, Donovan Blanc’s is introspective and focuses on the unknown, the “I’d call you every day, if I could” that Black and Schwab open the song with. It’s mid-tempo but never drags, and the chiming guitars that lead the song resemble a harpsichord. Minha Menina is one of the stronger singles released this year, and a perfect representation of the rest of the album.
Donovan Blanc is filled to the brim with well written songs, and most acts can only dream of starting with a record this strong. It’s both timeless and monumental. One can only hope that the rest of the world will catch on quickly.